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Major Malachowski Leaves the Thunderbirds

It’s a two year tour and it’s been two great years. But all good things must end as Major Nicole Malachowski leaves the Thunderbirds. Major “FiFi” Malachowski entered the U.S. Air Force in 1996 after graduating from the Air Force Academy with a B.S. in Management and a minor in French. Before she joined the Thunderbirds, she served as an F-15E Instructor Pilot and Flight Commander in the

Nicole and her Bear.

494th Fighter Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, U.K. She has amassed 1900 hours in the air, 1700 of that in the F-15 and F-16.

She has 200 combat hours. Kosovo in 1998 and Iraq in 2005. She flew the F-15E Strike Eagle and the Bear in Back was a girl too. She was known to pull off the target and say, “You were just killed by a GIRL!!”
She calls Las Vegas, Nevada her home.

As you might know, I work Transient Alert at Creech AFB, Nevada. The airfield where the Thunderbirds practice. A while back it was my pleasure to spend a morning with Malachowski, waiting for the weather to break and she could fly back to Nellis.

Up close and personal I found her to be extremely professional and yet warm and friendly. She didn’t act like a Major. More like a Captain with money. That might sound flip, but it isn’t.

What you don’t know is that the school here in Indian Springs goes from Kindergarden to 12th grade. The school mascot are the Thunderbirds. Yes the team. Taking time from her very busy schedule, Nicole found time to come out to speak to the kids and visit with them on more than one occasion . Many of the children, especially the younger ones have taken to calling her
“Our Thunderbird”.

“Our message to the next generation is to follow your passion, pursue excellence in it, and to always dream big!”
-Major Malachowski


Nicole humbly accepts her place in history as the first female Thunderbird. Well…as humble as one can expect from a Combat Fighter Pilot. I have it on good authority that she likes this picture and has it on her desk….

Ever the team player, she requested that her teammate, Major Samantha Weeks (opposing solo) be given “pink smoke” as well. No sweat Ma’am.


Malachowski is a good stick and great person.


Save your pictures people, this one will wear stars


{ 5 comments… add one }
  • walt313 July 15, 2012, 10:50

    UPDATE: Having survived Washington D.C. LtCol Malachowski is assigned as Commander, 333th FS, Seymour Johnson AFB N.C.

  • walt313 July 15, 2012, 11:11

    Bear: The Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO), the GIB. Refers to pilot’s opinion that a trained bear can replace the GIB. (See: FUF, BIB).

    BIB: Bitch in Back, a Female Bear. With the on set of female pilots, there may be a Bitch in Back.. But can also be non gender specific denoted and whiny co-pilot EWO, WSO or Bear.

    FUF: Fucker Up Front. Pilot in two seat aircraft such as an F-4 Phantom. Also can be Female Up Front. (See GIB, BIB)

  • walt313 July 15, 2012, 11:14

    Mud Hen: F-15E/F Strike Eagle. Sometimes employed on a MUDCAP.

    Station Wagon: Two seat aircraft such as an F-16D or a F-15D. An F-15E is not a bus because there’s a Bear back there. (See: Bus, Bear)

    More Air Force Slang

  • Ken Rankin July 15, 2012, 15:31

    Love the pink smoke. Nice to know a woman can do the job. I think she is awesome!

  • Alex@LateEnough July 15, 2012, 17:26

    Very cool.

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